There is much mystery and misconception about how to heal from an injury, and when to begin “working out” again. We tend to be impatient, and expect our bodies to work way too hard, way too soon. On top of that, we may not notice the distortion and compensation in our muscles and joints from favoring the injury. Unless we restore symmetry and alignment to the body, we will face increased strain and limited range of motion.
Bodies can be softened and molded like clay; their structures and functions restored. Scar tissue can soften and dissolve. Living tissue exists and evolves by constantly birthing new cells.
In my experience and worldview, there are 4 stages to Rehabilitation,
and they need to happen in this order :
1 Release SPASM
2 Restore Flexibility
3 Restore Strength
4 Restore Endurance
Most people skip straight to #3 and start strength training right away; it’s too soon! Releasing the spasm first will restore circulation and fluid flows (lymph, cerebrospinal fluid), and awaken stagnant nerves. However, fighting a spasm and forcing the injured muscle to work only hurts and scares it, increasing tension and resistance to stretch. Then, once metabolic toxins start to pool, inflammation gets worse, and we feel increased pain and limitation again. It is absolutely essential to release the spasm first. CranioSacral and NeuroMuscular Bodywork, and deep breathing, really help with this, as does the precise joint alignment of Structural Yoga Therapy. Stretching, strengthening and healing happen easily once the circulation and life energy can flow again.
Extending our exhalations activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows us down so our bodies can unwind and start to heal. The pressures we’ve accumulated did not suddenly occur in a single day; nor will the healing process complete itself in one day. Learn to use your yoga practice to correct the structural problems caused by accidents and physically demanding occupations (eg: farming and construction). Structure dictates function. With a little more knowledge of how our bodies work, and taking the stages of rehabilitation in proper order, healing completely and efficiently can be right in our hands!